The Lesser Known Deaths of Covid-19
Although the COVID-19 virus directly led to many illness and loss of life, one of the lesser talked about causes of death exacerbated by the pandemic was suicide.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed this fact in an August 2020 report, saying “The coronavirus disease pandemic has been associated with mental health challenges related to the morbidity and mortality caused by the disease and to mitigation activities, including the impact of physical distancing and stay-at-home orders.”
Since the pandemic, suicide rates have increased significantly. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), “Leading theories of suicide emphasize the key role that social connections play in suicide prevention. Individuals experiencing suicidal ideation may lack connections to other people and often disconnect from others as suicide risk rises. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are associated with social isolation and loneliness. Therefore, from a suicide prevention perspective, it is concerning that the most critical public health strategy for the COVID-19 crisis is social distancing. Furthermore, family and friends remain isolated from individuals who are hospitalized, even when their deaths are imminent. To the extent that these strategies increase social isolation and loneliness, they may increase suicide risk.”
Although the government-mandated shutdowns throughout the country were meant to prevent death due to physical sickness, they only increased problems for those with mental illness.
For many, church attendance has provided the comfort needed to get them through the pandemic. Without their church community, many people suffered. However, those who were able to attend church regularly, whether online or in person, felt less isolated.
JAMA also stated, “Weekly attendance at religious services has been associated with a 5-fold lower suicide rate compared with those who do not attend. The effects of closing churches and community centers may further contribute to social isolation and hence suicide.”
This news should motivate churches to adapt even further, reaching those who have not been able to access religious services or meet with others during the pandemic. Furthermore, how can churches make their members’ mental health a priority on a regular basis? Church leaders can be thinking of ways to check in on their congregation and provide opportunities to minister to individuals’ mental health in addition to spiritual health.
1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Matthew 11: 28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”